Power BI Accessibility Features – Navigating with a Screen Reader

A screen reader is a tool that reads out loud the contents being displayed on your screen. Visually impaired users rely on screen readers to be able to interact with their devices.

There are quite a few screen readers on the market, but the top three ones are JAWS, NVDA, and VoiceOver. The first two one work on Windows, while the third one is included as a part of Apple’s operating systems.

Additionally, screen readers are extremely complex tools and becoming proficient with them might take a long time. If you’ve never used it before, it can be an overwhelming experience and although using a screen reader as a sighted user doesn’t quite compare to how a real user would use it, but it can help us understand how our app is being consumed by part of our userbase.

All screen readers have similar functionalities but Keyboard shortcuts and ways of identifying links, images, and other things might be slightly by different screen readers. Using the Tab key will take users through the page, jumping through visuals. Alternately the user can use screen reader shortcut keys to obtain a list of the links on the page, arranged alphabetically.

Here is a handy basic keyboard shortcuts cheat sheet for different screen readers:

JAWS Key Commands
NVDA Key Commands
Mac VoiceOver Key Commands

Since Power BI reports should be treated more like an application and less like a document, it’s been set up with custom navigation to make it easier to navigate. When navigating around objects, the screen reader reads the type of object and the object’s title (if it has one). The screen reader also reads a description of that object (alt text) if it’s provided by the report author.

As a report author you need to make sure you are developing your report page with taking a consideration of  some users will navigate the report by using a keyboard, and some users will consume the report by using a screen reader.


Interested in custom designed high quality Accessible Power BI reports?  Anyon ConsultingPower BI Consulting group can help.  Contact us today to learn more about our  Custom Report Development

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